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Health Team

Dietitian: 'Healthy' food labels may be misleading

Posted October 5, 2015

As more Americans look for healthier food options, grocery store brands are competing for the attention of customers. Marketing slogans, such as "less sugar" and "organic," appear to be healthy options, but some of those labels may be misleading, experts say.

Registered dietitian Paige Espenship shared some tips for how people can decode what's fact and what's marketing spin.

"I have a kids' yogurt. It advertises that it has no high-fructose corn syrup," Espenship said. "They've been able to keep the sugar down in this product by reducing the portion size. This is only a little over a third of a cup of yogurt."

She warns that granola bars perceived by many as healthy, especially if promoting less sugar can be full of artificial sweeteners. Another confusing item is juice.

"For someone on 1,500 calories, which most kids are going to be at that level, that means about 30 grams of sugar per day and this (100 percent fruit juice) is at 22 grams of sugar already in just one box of juice," Espenship said.

When gaging the nutritional value of packaged goods, Espenship looks for high dietary fiber and low artificial sugar content. By far, her favorite section of the grocery store is the produce department.

"There are no hidden ingredients. What you get is what you get," she said. "You don't have to look at labels. You know it's good for you."

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